Sunday, October 25, 2020

Sunday Smith #67: PC Model 4006 Shorty .40 Mk3S, 1996

 Just titling this post was difficult. You'll see this gun referred to by a bunch of different names, with "Shorty Forty" or "Shorty .40" being the most common. Hardly ever is it acknowledged as a Model 4006 variant, which is what Smith calls it on the label on the side of the case.

Unlike the compact double stack 9mm pistols, which got normalized as the Second Generation Model 469 and the Third Generation 6904 and 6906, Smith & Wesson never did catalog a "mainstream" compact .40 S&W double-stack in the Third Gen. The TSW ("Tactical Smith & Wesson") variant of the Model 4013 had a nine-round double-stack magazine, but your regular 4013 was just a slightly bigger-bored sibling to the 9mm Model 3913 single-stack.

The lore behind the Shorty .40 goes something like this...

South African IPSC shooter and pistolsmith Paul Liebenberg had come to this side of the pond to work at Pachmayr, back when they were still a premier custom pistol house, before hanging out his own shingle at Pistol Dynamics in the late '80s. Liebenberg was something of an evangelist for the "Centimeter" wildcat cartridge and wound up getting tapped to do a proof-of-concept conversion on a couple of Model 5906's.

That led Smith to hire him to help stand up their new Performance Center department. At the time, Smith engineers were balking at the idea of a subcompact .40, due to high chamber pressures and unforgiving slide velocities. As the lore goes, Liebenberg showed up at a meeting with the prototype of what became the Shorty Forty, plopping it on the table and announcing "There's the impossible."

The initial pistol sold so well in its limited run at Lew Horton that similar batches were made in two subsequent years; five hundred guns each in 1992, 1993, and 1995.

1995 saw the introduction of the two-tone Melonited Mark 3 variant (there must have been a Mark II, but info is sketchy), with an accompanying all-stainless Mark 3S coming along in 1996. 

The slide contours of the Mk3 differ from the earlier guns and are somewhat reminiscent of those found on some PC945 variants as well as the later M&P series pistols. They feature ambi safeties, Novak sights, checkered frontstraps, and have hand-fitted barrel bushings and tuned actions. The double-action trigger on the pictured example is nicer than any semi-auto DA trigger I've owned other than my Langdon Beretta.

Production total for the Mk3S was 612 pistols and the catalog price was $1,024.95. The pictured example came with the factory box and, while showing too much wear to excite a real collector, is still in very nice cosmetic condition. It was acquired for $450 in 2020.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Sunday Smith #66: Model 1066, 1991

The history of the 10mm Auto cartridge is well-documented elsewhere (and has been lightly touched on here) but basically it was the culmination of an effort to make an ideal cartridge for a fighting pistol, shooting flatter and further than the .45 and hitting harder than the 9x19mm. 

Unfortunately, the pistol with which it had been developed hand-in-glove was a flop, victim of undercapitalization, manufacturing glitches, and poor sales. With the Bren Ten a failure, the cartridge might have sunk below the waves alongside it, had not Colt launched the Delta Elite, a 1911 chambered in 10mm Auto, in 1987.

Two years later, Smith & Wesson launched the Third Generation variant of their large-frame .45ACP single stack auto in the shape of the Model 4506, and with that groundwork laid, 1990 saw Smith's first 10mm Auto offerings, based on the same frame.

The full-size version, dubbed the 1006, was joined in the catalog with a 4.25" barreled variant, the Model 1066.

With its 4.25" barrel length, 39 ounce weight, and $730 MSRP, the Model 1066 was nearly an overlay for a Colt's Combat Commander in stainless, albeit with a double-action trigger, an ambidextrous safety/decocker, and chambered for the new hotness 10mm Auto.

Production of the 1066 ended after only three years, with 5,076 built from 1990-1992.

The above example, in clean shooter-grade condition with long-dead factory night sights and an aftermarket Hogue grip, was purchased (with one magazine and no box) in 2020 for $500.